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Japan in a Word


Giri choko

14 February is the universally recognised バレンタインデー (barentain dei; the Saint Valentine’s Day). In Japan, this is an occasion when women generally give chocolates to men who reciprocate one month later.

There are different types of chocolate giving which are categorised according to the relationship between the giver and the recipient. 義理チョコ (girichoko; obligation chocolate) is given to a colleagues and bosses as a token of gratitude, while本命チョコ (honmei choko; chocolate with true love) is reserved for a romantic partner. There is also 友チョコ (tomo choko) for 友達 (tomodachi; friends).

While 義理チョコ has a role of expressing gratitude and friendship in Japanese society, this commercialised annual event has placed emotional and financial pressure on some women.

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